Interpreting the emissions cap on oil and gas in Canada from an Indigenous viewpoint begs me to ask the question: will it affect natural resource investments and impact Indigenous communities?
Fulfilling Canada’s Global Objectives
Canada is a highly responsible and ethical environmental leader on the global stage. With that comes pressure to perform and lead.
When you have a consuming passion for an ideology, sometimes it is hard to see the whole picture. For example, every year, the federal government speaks at events such as the Paris Agreement Glasgow Summit or United Nations Climate Change Conference, saying that Canada is prepared to limit the growth of one of its largest industries to help limit the climate’s average temperature increase to 1.5% Celsius over the next several decades. That is, by capping oil and gas today to reach targets set for 2050.
Was there a Canadian consensus on these “ambitious” targets that included everyday Canadians, businesses and Indigenous Peoples? Or was it assumed the federal government knows best for all living in Canada?
Canada is a Responsible Energy Producer
Canada accounts for less than 1.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As the 37th largest country, it is home to approximately 0.5% of the global population. There are 38 million people across our vast country, about 4.2 people for every square kilometre, which turns out to be one of the lowest population densities in the world.
With such an open and vast landmass comes an abundance of natural resources such as oil and natural gas, and with that abundance, the responsibility to develop these resources sustainably.
Canada is a global leader in responsible resource production and has world-class environmental policies that are often in no comparison to those in countries like China, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. We also know that China, Russia and the US are listed as some of the highest carbon emitters, and ironically, some of our top competitors on global energy markets.
Canada is one of the few global energy jurisdictions with a carbon tax. We pay a steep tax that is increasing every year, hoping it will reduce carbon emissions worldwide while incentivizing Canadian consumers to shift to cleaner energy sources.
In terms of energy, it is crystal clear which global producers I would choose to get my supplies from, isn’t it for you?
Canadian Energy & Prosperity
Few people will dispute that Canadian prosperity is largely supported by oil and gas. With the third largest oil reserves, high environmental standards and ethical practices, most of our global competitors can not compare themselves to us.
Many governments and business executives acknowledge we are leaders in environmentally sustainable oil and gas production. That’s why our producers have worked alongside provincial and federal governments to bring forward cleaner energy standards for decades.
However, putting an emissions cap on oil and gas now will be detrimental to the Canadian economy. Investors are more likely to move their money to countries with lower or no environmental or ethical standards. Therefore, if we are genuinely concerned with reducing global carbon emissions and fighting climate change, then shouldn’t we do our part to avoid letting countries with lower standards produce the energy the world needs, and instead encourage advancing our own energy sector and clean technologies?
Promoting new clean sources of energy takes a lot of research and development. For example, the effects of mining and tailings of lithium can prove to be more detrimental in the hands of irresponsible producers that don’t care as much about sustainable production.
Energy diversity is possible when it is not done at a radical pace. Slow and steady wins the race, and we are leaders in sustainability despite what others like to subjectively portray of Canada’s energy sector.
In the Spirit of Reconciliation
Oil and gas is a big business in Canada. Countless Indigenous People and their respective communities rely on the economic stability it provides.
Canada declared September 30th a day of Truth and Reconciliation for Indigenous Peoples across the country. Along with that is our right to provide for our families and to use and produce our resources in environmentally sustainable ways.
Through employment, education, housing and healthcare provided from equity partnerships and ownership of businesses involved in natural resources, the livelihood of Indigenous people is changing, and a better future is attainable. Economic reconciliation provides Indigenous communities with an opportunity they likely will not find elsewhere while lessening their dependency on government assistance and involvement.
Setting a cap on oil and gas emissions only works to stunt the growing independence of Indigenous People, as it will essentially hinder everything these communities have worked so hard to correct and make better from the past.
In the true spirit of reconciliation for Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians, now is not the time for more division, setbacks, taxes, and caps on natural resource production. Instead, Canada can fulfill its position as a world leader and attain our global objectives by promoting natural resource development and working together in unison with Indigenous communities for a better future for all.
About the Author
Estella Petersen is a heavy machinery operator in the oil sands out of Fort McMurray. Estella is from the Cowessess Reserve and is passionate about Canada and supporting Canadian natural resources.
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